Shooting in Wisconsin Again

The Sheboygan Acuity Flag

This is my first time back in Wisconsin in about four and a half years. The first week was with my family and this upcoming week is shooting time and I’ve got lots in the works! After taking my family to the airport for their flight home today, I shot the worlds largest free flying American flag. This is the 400 foot tall Acuity Flagpole of the Acuity Insurance Company in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The flag hangs on the tallest flagpole in North America, each star is approximately 3 feet across on this 9,800 square foot flag that weighs a whopping 250 pounds! It’s not just big, it B.I.G. While I’ve driven by it many times on Interstate 43, standing underneath this enormous Old Glory was a completely new experience. It’s gorgeous, Acuity (get it – couldn’t resist…). When it waves in the wind it sounds more like a low rumble than a flag waving. If you’re ever heading north of Milwaukee on I-43, get off at exit 123 and check out this jumbo sized patriotic wonder.

Lots of photos coming on this in the future! But for now, I’m seriously trying to get better about blogging a little each day so please come back!

Sheboygan, Wisconsin (iPhone 13 mini)

New DC Area Collection!

New DC Area Collection!

Well… Washington and Arlington at least.

I have a few collections at my website that are getting a little big so I’ve divided them up a bit. Instead a ‘Patriotic, Military and History’ collection, there is now Patriotic and History, it works for me (me me). In the process it seemed like a good idea to get all the DC photos in to one collection as well, since these photos have generated interest it makes sense. I honestly hope to add to this collection once back in the US, hopefully set up a fare alert from El Paso to Washington, DC. While I only lived in northern Virginia for a year, I shot a ton of photos. There is SO much history up that way it made my head spin, when I headed out to shoot after my wife went to work and the kids went to school, I’d lump locations together so I could shoot more than one site in the time I had. Except for DC, DC requires time to shoot because there’s so much in one little area. On the next trip, I need to shoot at sunrise and sunset, something I failed to do last time and during winter if possible. All of my DC and Arlington National Cemetery photos now have a home in the Washington, DC Area collection, I hope you’ll take a minute to browse, maybe even purchase something if you find something that flips your trigger!

As always, I appreciate the support I receive for my little hobby, whether personally from family and friends online from photo friends on my Instagram or Facebook Pages, thank you all!

Just another day…

Today I’m shooting the USS Ronald Reagan departing Yokosuka, Japan on a Tiger Cruise this morning. A Tiger Cruise is a one day trip where family and friends come along, very cool. ¬†Living on a naval base has its perks! ¬†Look for pics in the future, meanwhile check out my photos at BillChizekPhotography.com.

 

About this…

Photo: Flags 7

Location: San Diego, CA

Date: April 28, 2017

Camera & Lens: Sony A7R ii & 24-240mm lens

About This Photo: ¬†This post might have been titled “About these” because the topic is not just about the above photo but about all the photos in this post. ¬†Shooting stock photography means anticipating trends, I try to shoot trends that are annual in nature and not just popular today but gone tomorrow. ¬†Why spend time shooting subjects that are only trendy and only generate money now? ¬†Why not shoot subjects that will generate recurring income. ¬†It might be a better plan to shoot subjects that will hopefully generate revenue for the long haul and holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas aren’t going away soon. ¬†Neither are Veterans, Memorial, Armed Forces and Independence Days, there’s plenty to shoot besides flags by themselves. ¬†However, one thing I try to do when possible is shoot the US flag with other subjects in hopes of crossing over in to another genre. ¬†The above photo, shot in a marina, could attract buyers who are sailing hobbyist, or enthusiasts, but also people who like the southern California or SoCal vibe. ¬†What I like about this photo is that it’s not overtly patriotic, the flag is such a small part of the overall photo. ¬†Aside from the boats and marina as subjects, the water and wind play a role as well.

Advertisers start gearing up for these patriotic holidays not long after we’ve put the Christmas trees away. ¬†The above photo, taken in April, started selling almost immediately as it was taken in time for the patriotic holidays. ¬†However, most photos taken during an actual holiday won’t likely sell until following year, like I said, advertisers gear up early and by April most ad campaigns for the holidays are likely winding down. ¬†All the photos in this post have been top sellers. ¬†The below photo, top left, with the tuba was taken at a Navy Band Southwest performance in San Diego, CA. ¬†Hopefully this photo would appeal not only toward those looking for patriotic photos, but also by military folks as there is a sailor in the reflection on the tuba. ¬†Also, musicians in general may like this, maybe music stores having a 4th July sales. ¬†It goes without saying that the below, top right photo, could summon emotions from September 11th but could attract buyers in the law enforcement community as well. ¬†The photo at the very bottom was taken at a car show in Haymarket, VA and is one of several flags with classic cars taken that day. ¬†Obviously, looking toward not only car enthusiasts but also people looking for something retro in nature.

What is the point of this post? ¬†Well, if you’re taking the time to go out and shoot, spend time editing photos, consider shooting cross genres if you can! ¬†That one day at the car show in Haymarket, VA yielded not only some great car shots but also decent patriotic themed photos as well. ¬†When I started shooting stock photography a few years ago, I would set out with a goal to shoot one subject only and had blinders on the to rest of what was around me. ¬†My whole approach is different now, keeping in mind that these flag photos may be the real money makers. ¬†Car shows, flower shows, air shows and other events can also be great locations for patriotic stock opportunities. ¬†The lesson here is that patriotic photos such as these sell, sometimes a lot, and can generate income year after year. ¬†If you’re already traveling somewhere to shoot stock at an event, why not take some photos of the US flags and their surroundings if you’re already there? ¬†You never know, they just might sell more than the photos you originally came to shoot.

 

 

Patriotic Homes of Coronado

Flags 1Selling stock photos has been going well this year. ¬†However, while most photos for my website make it to the stock sites with logos and trademarks removed, the reverse isn’t true as many stock photos don’t make it to BillChizekPhotography.com. ¬†These can range from the texture of a wall, grass with morning dew, or a piece of wood; subjects that allow copy space for advertisers to insert text, nothing appealing for a photography website. ¬†That said, I try to post a variety of photos about five days a week to my website and all the stock photos taken that week. ¬†Posting one photo daily ensures website traffic, if I posted thirty photos most visitors would just look at them one time and move on. ¬†Posting as many stock photos weekly as possible is important because they don’t make money sitting on a hard drive. ¬†However, this year I decided to post nothing but patriotic stock photos for the long Fourth of July weekend. ¬†For this, I used stock photos of flags flying in the yards near where we live in Coronado, California. ¬†Not surprising to anyone living in Coronado, but many homes here fly the flag year round. In fact, only the photo at the top of this post was taken on the actual Fourth of July weekend (click HERE for original photo). ¬†Yes, you’d be hard pressed to find a more patriotic community west of the Mississippi!

This is largely due Coronado having a unique military history, a good portion of Coronado’s land is occupied by Naval Air Station North Island. ¬†Almost since the beginning of Naval Aviation, many Naval Aviators have relocated to Coronado at various points in their careers.Flags 6¬† Many homes proudly display blue yard signs reading “Home of a Naval Aviator” and these are everywhere. ¬†To say this little town is kind of proud of the US Navy is like saying that little town back in Wisconsin is kind of proud of their Packers. ¬†That’s why most of these photos were shot months ago in anticipation that advertisers would be looking for patriotic photos for their Independence Day deadlines. ¬†Coronado was the perfect location for this because with flags flying year round, my patriotic stock photo search was mostly complete last May. ¬†This photo to the left may look like it’s been set up for an upcoming holiday, but this street looks like this practically for 365 days of the year! ¬†Yes, even with the white picket fences.

Flags 2

Coronado is home to many active duty and retired military, plus it’s the home of the US Navy SEAL’s who train here. ¬†Since 2007, Coronado has been home to our family for about seven years. ¬†It’s where I, like many others, retired from the military. ¬†It’s probably because Coronado is just one of those places that’s comfortable to military people because being retired military here isn’t a novelty. ¬†This is probably another the reason that flags fly year round here. ¬†Shooting stock photography here couldn’t have been easier, if I liked a particular photo but felt it was missing something, I didn’t have to spend hours in Photoshop doctoring the pic to get it right nor did I need to seek new locations. ¬†All that was needed was to return to the same location at a different time of day! ¬†The differences between morning and evening lighting, seasons, and weather all ensured a variety of photo settings.

Flags 3The photo location for this shot at left didn’t work the few times I tried, it was always lacking something. ¬†However, returning one morning and catching the sun behind the flag seemed to make it click. ¬†As a photographer, that’s one of the nice things about living somewhere that others travel to for vacation, if you don’t get a photo the way you want it you can just return later. ¬†While I’ve loved living here, my wife a service member and it’s our time to roll to the next place to call home for a while. ¬†Fortunately we’re moving to another incredible place that should prove interesting not only for photography but for our family as well, Virginia. ¬†As a former adjunct history professor and lifelong history buff/nerd/geek, I can’t think of another place I’d rather be located other than at my own house in Texas. ¬†Coronado has been a great place to raise our daughters, who have loved the beaches and learning to swim at the rec center, leaving friends and Coronado will be tough. ¬†While moving an entire house every three years or so can be draining, once settled at the new location this nomadic lifestyle can be rewarding. ¬†Since taking up photography, military transfers seem to recharge the creative batteries. ¬†In Coronado, even the below photo of springtime and blooming flowers came out patriotic, ya… it’s just that kind of place.

Nado Spring

 

 

Memorial Day 2017

I shoot stock photography, like the above photo, and there is always a demand for patriotic photos during this time of the year with Armed Forces, Memorial, Independence, and Veterans Days all within a few months of each other. ¬†The night before Memorial Day is a great opportunity to photograph as the flags have been put in place, there are cemetery workers present but the property is generally empty, so I know I’m not bothering anyone visiting graves. ¬†This is from my Facebook page, written about my experience this year, the night before Memorial Day:

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† “Last night I took my girls to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery here in San Diego. ¬†Rosecrans will be packed today so we are going to the ceremony in Coronado. ¬†I do this because I want my girls growing up with, and understanding, Memorial Day and not being part of a generation who doesn‚Äôt seem to care for, or appreciate, these things. ¬†While shooting these photos, I saw a lady sitting on a blanket over a grave, drinking a glass of wine, and wiping tears away. ¬†I decided to talk to her but warned my girls that she may want to be left alone and that no matter her reaction, it was ok. ¬†If she had told me to go away I would have said, ‚ÄúI’m sorry ma‚Äôam‚ÄĚ and left. ¬†Well, I walked up, extended my hand and said, ‚ÄúI don’t want to bother you, but I just want to say thank you for your family’s sacrifice.” ¬†She said thank you, told me it was nice to hear that. ¬†She began telling me about her husband, a Navy Senior Chief and one of the SEAL‚Äôs killed during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan (2005). ¬†He was in the helicopter that was shot down trying to rescue Marcus Luttrell (the Lone Survivor), Michael Murphy and their two fellow SEAL‚Äôs.* ¬†The helicopter going down was the single greatest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. ¬†We talked about her husband and Navy life, how he wanted to be a Master Chief, and then about us and Raquel (my wife) being at sea. ¬†While wiping tears away she assured my girls that ‚Äúmommy will be home soon.” ¬†I almost cried myself at that point, I told her that I’ve gotten to know some SEAL wives where I live and it makes me realize how blessed I’ve been because of their community and what they do; how her husband, and people like him, aren’t forgotten. ¬†Afterwards, my daughter Amanda commented on how her husband was killed 12 years ago and she‚Äôs still crying… ¬† While I could have taken an incredible photo of this lady with the sun going down behind her as she sat on a blanket and an American flag pillow over her husbands grave, our conversation was better than any photo I could have taken.”

From a photography standpoint, I learned that just because you have a camera in hand doesn’t mean you should take a photo. ¬†While I was talking to her, I had my camera the entire time and I never once thought of using it. ¬†This moment was bigger than a photo opportunity; I cautiously entered her space, at a very private moment, and she graciously allowed me to stay. ¬†This experience left an impression not only on myself, but my oldest daughter as well. ¬†I think it’s as close¬†as an eight year old girl can come to understanding¬†that time sometimes¬†doesn’t heal all wounds; that hurt can sometimes¬†last a lifetime. ¬†Fortunately, I didn’t just drive by this lady but¬†took a minute to talk with her and learned about her husband, but mostly their sacrifice. ¬†These families endure more than any of us will ever know, I’d imagine most of these service members will tell you that they’re just doing their jobs. ¬†I think they’re bigger than that and so are their families. ¬†This incredible woman shared a very private part of her life with me and it was an honor to meet her and be in her presence.

 

*Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson.